Cat Diet and Weight Control

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Many cats today are not at a healthy weight. In fact, a study conducted by the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention in 2009 showed that approximately 58% of cats in the United States were overweight or obese. This was a 5% increase from what a similar study found in 2007.

Why Should Pet Owners Be Concerned?

A few extra pounds may not seem like that big of a problem, but many pet owners misidentify their cats as being of normal weight when they are actually overweight. So if you think that your pet is only a "little" overweight, there is a very good chance that she is actually dangerously overweight or obese.

"If you have tried to put your cat on a diet and she has not lost any weight, talk to your veterinarian."

Many health conditions are seen more frequently in overweight cats, including:

  • Diabetes mellitus
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Hepatic lipidosis (a type of potentially fatal liver disease)

How Do I Know If My Pet Is Overweight

Owners should routinely examine their cats to determine if they are maintaining, gaining or losing weight. Using a scale is ideal to track small changes, but you should also know what a healthy weight looks and feels like. Have your cat stand up and use the following check list to determine whether or not she is at an ideal weight.

  • The ribs should not be visible but should be easily felt when you lightly run your hands along her sides.
  • Looking from the side, her abdomen should be "tucked," meaning that her chest is closer to the ground than her belly.
  • From above, she should have an hourglass figure. Her chest and hips should be wider than her waist.

Of course some breeds or individuals may vary slightly from the above and still be very healthy. Consult with your veterinarian if you have any questions.

Home Care

Cats that need to only lose a few pounds can usually do so if their owners are dedicated to helping them. Increasing the amount of exercise that a cat gets is very helpful but can be difficult. Make use of kitty fishing poles, laser pointers flashed on the floor and walls, or even train your cat to walk on a harness and leash outside. If your pet has osteoarthritis being more active might make her sore. In these cases, joint supplements can help keep her comfortable and allow her to get the exercise she needs.

Dasuquin Cat Sprinkles

Try to reduce your cat's overall caloric intake by about 15% percent. Start by strictly limiting treats. These can add a surprising number of calories to your cat's diet when they are given regularly. Consider switching your cat to a "diet" cat food since most pets are not satisfied if they are simply given 15% less of their current food. Examine the labels carefully. There is little regulation as to what can be called a "diet" cat food. In some cases, what is described as such may actually have more calories per cup than what you are currently feeding.

In general, home-cooked diets are not appropriate for cats that are overweight unless they are prepared from a recipe formulated by a veterinary nutritionist. If your cat will only eat a home-cooked diet, multivitamins will be necessary. Another way to get the benefit of fresh foods without the extra calories and time and effort spent preparing them, is to add an enzyme supplement to your pet's diet.

Veterinary Care

If you have tried to put your cat on a diet and she has not lost any weight, talk to your veterinarian. He or she can examine your cat and determine how much weight she needs to lose and the healthiest way to go about doing so. Overweight cats need to lose weight slowly to avoid a potentially serious liver disease caused hepatic lipidosis, so it never hurts to have your vet involved. If necessary, he or she can also provide you with foods or petmeds that are so calorie restricted they are only available through veterinarians.

The above is provided for information purposes only and should not be used for the diagnosis or treatment of any condition. This information does not cover all possible variables, conditions, reactions, or risks relating to any topic, medication, or product and should not be considered complete. Certain products or medications may have risks and you should always consult your local veterinarian concerning the treatment of your pet. Any trademarks are the property of their respective owners.

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